Productivity Tips

How Would You Rate Your Company’s Performance This Year?

Here we are at the end of 2012. How did business go these past 12 months? Would you rate your business a 10 because sales revenue and profits are at an all-time record?  Or a 2 because you did not achieve what you set out to do and sales are down. Often the answer is somewhere in between these two extremes. Some things went well and others may not have been as successful.

Regardless of the number, this is a perfect time to reflect on what went well and what needs to be improved:

  • Review last year’s goals; Then write down goals for this coming year.
  • List the programs you implemented this year that performed well and then add the programs that were less so;  decide which ones to keep, which ones to improve upon and which ones to chalk up as a learning experience.
  • Set up periodic reminders to evaluate programs on a quarterly basis (or even sooner). That way there will be no surprises at the end of the year. It may allow you to change direction mid-stream to refocus the program.
  • Evaluate your productivity systems and decide what you can do to improve them. They may impact your strategies and goals and perhaps will help the programs run more smoothly.

What would you like your company’s performance to be next year at this time?

Close Out The Year: Try This Checklist

  • Start gathering your papers and electronic files needed for taxes. Yes, now. Credit card and bank statements, receipts, anything you will need to take to your accountant. And, speaking of your accountant …
  • Meet with your accountant to review your situation and determine what, if any, actions to take before the official close of the year.
  • Pay outstanding invoices and avoid back dating checks in January.
  • Decide if money owed you now should be paid this year or in January. There may be advantages to moving the revenue into the following year.
  • Archive 2012 email. If your inbox is filled to the brim, here’s your opportunity to reduce your email volume. And compressed email takes up less space. It’s a win-win.

Thanksgiving: Be Thankful For Work You Enjoy

With Thanksgiving fast approaching, it is a good time to think about what you are thankful for in life. Many people mention family and friends first. But how about being grateful for a job you enjoy? Do you thrive on your work? Most positions require dedication and hard work although it may not feel that way if you draw energy from what you do.

What about the people who are passionate about their work but feel they are held back because they are not as productive as they would like to be? Lack of time management may be affecting their output. If you are in this category, read the tips below on how you can strengthen your efficiency skills.

  • Ask organized and productive colleagues to name the most important thing they do to remain productive. Give one of those ideas a try but remember that you need to practice correctly for 21 days straight. Otherwise back to the drawing board to research additional ways to strengthen productivity skills.
  • Read books, blogs or websites. Check out David Allen (www.davidco.com), Allan Lakein (Http://thinkingdirections.com/articles6Lakein.htm) or Harold Taylor (www.taylorintime.com). All have different views and suggestions on how to improve your productivity … what it takes to become more organized and get more done in a day.
  • Attend a class at a community college or from Fred Pryor (www.pryor.com/. Pryor offers a slew of courses to make you more productive including one called Managing Multiple Priorities.
  • Ask a friend or family member to shadow you. With an accountability partner, it not as easy to give up and go back to your old, comfortable, non-productive habits.

How are you going to become more organized and productive? Please share your ideas with us.

 

 

 

 

Don’t Waste My Time: How To Handle Interruptions

             What do you do when you are working on an important project, being really productive and are interrupted? I’m sure that this has happened to you – a colleague passes your office and stops by to chat about an upcoming sports event or you receive a phone call from a friend wanting to discuss a matter that is not at all important.

Recently an attorney said she has a rule – Don’t Waste My Time! Great rule but you cannot always say it, even if you’re thinking it.

Here are a few tips on handling and minimizing interruptions:

  • Be open and honest with the person stopping by or on the other end of the phone. Explain that you are in the midst of a project and set a time to speak later.
  • Stand up and head toward a water fountain, bathroom or the kitchen area. Anywhere. The person tagging along will get the hint without your saying a thing.
  • Let your boss know – if that’s the interrupter – what project you are working on when you were pulled away. Give the boss the benefit of the doubt. Maybe he/she will understand now.
  • Tell yourself – if you’re the interrupter – to stay focused and get back to work … pronto.

You have more control over interruptions than you realize. The trick is to be proactive, not reactive. While many issues are important and need to be addressed right away, the basketball scores can wait, even if your team won.

Eat That Frog

Eat That Frog!     This morning I had a lot of calls to make and did not particularly feel like making them. Then I remembered the book I had just finished reading —  Eat That Frog by Brian Tracy. In the book procrastination is not allowed. I would need to make the calls first thing and begin with the most difficult one. Ug. Well, I did it and it felt wonderful.

Tracy’s premise is that starting and completing the most important — and often the most difficult — task of the day will soon become a habit. Email and less important to-dos must wait until the most important one is done.

He suggests that we ask ourselves 3 key questions:

1) What are my highest value activities?

2) What are the biggest frogs I have to eat to make the greatest contribution to my organization? What can I and only I do that, if done well, will make a real difference?

3) Ask yourself every hour: What is the most valuable use of my time right now?

What important eat that frog task will you tackle tomorrow morning?

 

How Do You Start Your Day? Try These Tips.

Recently, we interviewed successful business people and learned that many of them start off their day purposefully – they make sure they are totally prepared for the upcoming day and whatever will come their way. While some have predictable days, many do not. We need to accomplish as much as possible as early as possible since we do not know what is ahead — clients need answers now and a boss can walk into your office with an urgent project.

Fast Company Magazine writer Kevin Purdy addresses this in the August 22, 2012, issue “What Successful People Do With The First Hour of Their Work Day.” His excellent suggestions are right in line with the practical ideas we advise our clients.

First, incorporate a routine into that first hour — exercise, meditate, eat breakfast, read the paper, or whatever else you feel you must do to get the day off to a good start. With that behind you, you can focus on the present.

Second, don’t open email right away. Don’t even think about it. If you must, Purdy recommends AwayFind. This software program alerts you to emails that need to be opened immediately.

Third, accomplish one outstanding task that will need your attention that day. It will take a weight off your shoulders because it will be done and now you no longer need to think about it. Plus, as Purdy points out, colleagues and clients will no longer pursue you for answers.

Do you want to get your tasks done and have more productive days? It’s Time To Get Organized can help. Call Leslie Walden and Barbara Mays: 404-303.8431 or email: info@ItsTimeToGetOrganized.com

 

Personal Productivity: Working From Home

Business people working from home offices used to be the exception. No more. Now they are part of the mainstream and no one looks surprised when they hear that a colleague works from home.

It is just as important — maybe more — for someone conducting business at home to be organized and productive as it is if you are in an office setting. We all know the pluses and minuses for working at home so we are going to focus on how to be more productive when you have a home office. You can be just as organized and use all of the techniques that your colleagues in the office are using to get their work done and move their projects ahead.

Here are some tips to being more organized and efficient when you work at home:

1) Establish regimens and stick to them. Some examples:

  • Arrive at your desk at a specific time every day.
  • Check email several times of the day — perhaps an hour in the morning and an hour in the afternoon.
  • Return phone calls at a specific time such as just before lunch and in the late afternoon.

2) Write a daily to-do list and keep it in front of you at all times. Star 3-4 priorities and decide when you are going to do them. At the end of the day, it will feel good to leave your office and have accomplished what you set out to do. (Note: The to-do list can be on paper or electronic. It doesn’t matter as long as you check it often.)

3) Stay focused. If you decide that you need to work for several hours on a particular project, schedule a block of time and resolve not to become waylaid by something else. Avoid interruptions from the phone, email and the next door neighbor knocking at your door. Stick to the project at hand.

4) Bunch tasks together. You are more efficient when you answer email or make phone calls all at the same time.

5) Prepare for the next day ahead of time. Look over your calendar to see what appointmen                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      ts you have and get your to-do list ready for tomorrow.

6) Use a timer. It is one of the best tools available to keep you on track and organized.

7) Take short breaks. Get up and move the way you would in an office. Get a drink of water. Walk around outside at lunch time or exercise during lunch.

8) Find an accountability partner so you will do what you said you would.

9) Make sure your office is set up for you to work efficiently: the right tools: computer, printer, scanner, smart phone, software, speaker phone, filing cabinets, clock, a comfortable chair and the right lighting.

The result? You will feel in control of your work day.

Still having a difficult time maintaining your productivity? We can customize systems that will increase your efficiency and effectiveness in your home office. Call us — Leslie or Barbara — at 404-303-8431 or email Info@ItsTimeToGetOrganized.com.

 

 

Do You Unsubscribe?

We all have too much email. It feels endless. But there is an easy way to reduce email volume: Unsubscribe. As email efficiency experts, we highly recommend unsubscribing to as many emails as possible as long as it is a legitimate site. You can always sign up again at a later date.

Then why don’t we make the extra effort and unsubscribe? Why do we leave the emails in our inbox? They waste energy and time because we need to flip through them to get to the email we really want and need.

Some of the reasons we hear for not unsubscribing:

1) I don’t have enough time to scroll to the bottom of the email and click the unsubcribe link.

2) I don’t feel like it.

3) It’s not worth bothering.

4) It’s too complicated. I am redirected to the website where I have to hunt for the unsubscribe page and often can’t find it. (That happens to us and it’s frustrating!)

The next time you receive an email you do not need, take the 1-2 minutes to unsubscribe. Do it immediately. Think of it as eliminating not just that current email but future unwanted emails that will automatically show up in your inbox every day or week or month.

If you feel overwhelmed by the huge number of emails in your inbox, try one of these tips:

1) Create a folder called “Unsubscribe” and drag the emails from which you need to unsubscribe to that folder; Set up a 1/2 hour every week to unsubscribe. What a great feeling to reduce the email in your inbox!

2) Unsubscribe to one email each day.

3) Make it a game. Set aside 10 minutes daily and challenge yourself to see how many emails you can eliminate by unsubscribing. A timer is an excellent tool for this activity.

Are you inundated with email? Call Leslie or Barbara at 404.303.8431 or email: Info@ItsTimeToGetOrganized.com. We can help reduce your email volume and your stress.

 

 

 

 

Zero Emails In Your Inbox. Is It Possible?

Have you ever considered what it would be like to have zero emails in your inbox? Most of us have a comfort level and stick with that number. For some it may be 20 while others are happy if they can keep the number to 60. Then there are those who aspire to less than 500. Each one of us has a number. What’s yours?

David Allen from Getting Things Done suggests that the number should be zero. While Allen blogs that zero emails in your inbox will require a definite change in thinking, he thinks it is worth the effort. It is possible to make this change only when you decide that the number you are currently comfortable with is no longer acceptable.

If you are wondering why Allen suggests that we take our inbox from our comfort number to zero, he gives several good reasons. Even though you may flag them and know what emails are already in your inbox, Allen points out that:

1) it takes time — and energy — to go through them every time. This is valuable energy that takes us away from important tasks.

2) the email is still there because you haven’t taken the time to decide how to handle it.

If  you are stressed out by the the number of emails in your inbox, we can teach you the techniques to make decisions on how to handle each email, how to sort quickly and where to put the ones needing further action. Call us at 404-303-8431 or email info@ItsTimeToGetOrganized.com for a free consultation.

 

 

 

Get Big Projects Done With Block Scheduling

The Case for Block Scheduling

On average, according to researcher David Meyer, switching time increases the amount of time it takes to finish the primary task you were
working on by an average of 25%. In short, juggling activities is incredibly inefficient.

It takes 25 minutes to regain concentration after each interruption. (Source: University of California-Irvine Study)

What are the benefits of Block Scheduling?

  • It keeps you focused on the project at hand and prevents you from “flitting” from project to project with each interruption.
  • You avoid interruptions during specific blocks and gladly accept them during other blocks.
  • You accomplish more in a day.
  • Your output is likely to be better quality because you weren’t hurried and could do your best work.
  • You have better control over your schedule.
  • You can tackle big projects by breaking them down into steps and doing one or more of the steps during a block time.

Try it

  • Make an appointment with yourself and honor it the same way you’d honor a meeting.
  • Set up blocks of time on your calendar throughout the week.
  • Stick to the schedule as closely as possible, even with appointments and meetings that arise at the last minute.
  • Schedule the blocks of time when you do your best thinking and are most creative.

Tip:  1 – 1/2 ½ hours most days of the week is ideal but 2-3 days may be most practical, especially at the beginning.

Can It’s Time To Get Organized help you set up your block schedule so you can get the maximum out of each day? Call 404-3-3-8431 or email: info@ItsTimeToGetOrganized.com.